Seven Mindset Shifts That Will Make You a Better Leader
To become a better leader, there are some mindset shifts you should take into consideration. If it is true that leadership has very little to do with position, and has more to do with one’s ability to influence others to follow you, then how, and why, do we shift our mindset to become better leaders?
If you’re a business leader, your goal should be to get the most out of your team by developing them so that they grow within the organization.
This is a factTo achieve this, you need to help your managers undergo a shift in their thinking, so that they can stop acting as ‘managers’, and start seeing themselves as ‘leaders’ in the business.
To lead or manage is an important question. It is not an either or question; to get results, you need to do do both, but they require different skills and mindset.
Effective leadership is not a result of external symbols of success like important-sounding titles and swanky offices. Instead it is an inside-out mindset that comes when you shift your mindset.
Today’s leadership environment is demanding something different from you.
How you led historically doesn’t have the same impact. The pace of change around you is dizzying and the expectation to keep up with it all is debilitating.
In order to lead a team to its fullest potential, leaders need to recognize their own current mindsets and transform them.
For upcoming leaders, the following seven mindset shifts are those which revolutionize the workplace. Here are seven mindset changes that will help make you a better leader.
Focus on Relationships
Team focus is an important mindset for new leaders, but it’s also the easiest for long-time leaders to forget. So much of the language we use in daily conversation is rooted in ourselves, making it easy to slip out of a team mentality.
Get in the habit of making every communication — even casual conversations — about the team instead of yourself.
This is a factHave you ever heard a manager discipline an employee by saying the employee’s actions made things more difficult for them? This statement unintentionally sends the message that managers are more interested in their own careers than helping employees improve.
Relationships are going to be the main focus for the future.
Relationships built on mutual understanding, equal responsibilities, agreed on roles, with built-in accountability for a fair reward. It is a mutual and agreed relationship of giving and take, which returns energies of contribution with those of reward.
Interestingly, leaders who are driven by a desire for career advancement are more open to change.
This is a factThis also points to how they lead their teams: Good leaders closely observe the people in their teams and invest in their growth when they’re ready for it, which increases trust and engagement. Additionally, when the team grows and develops then, by default, it reflects positively on the leader.
When employees feel empowered to make decisions, provide feedback and take action within an organization, they’re more likely to create value.
Breaking down traditional hierarchies and establishing workplace networks allows team members to collaborate which leads to innovation. When employees feel valued and useful, they’re more likely to be motivated and adaptable which in turn yields success for the entire organization.
Culture Eats Strategy
It always starts with the leader. If we want to impact the effectiveness of our organization, it starts with us. What do we need to do differently to lead better and influence change?
The role of leadership is no more to steer the organization and align the culture, set the agenda, establish rules of engagement, and define corporate identity.
Because leadership is embedded in the organization and therefore part of it, the culture can be meaningfully innovated only from within through the collective participation of all who comprise it.
The key to a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are supported by structure.
This is a factWhen an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.
Your people have a pulse, and together, they create the pulse of your organization.
Still, many leaders tend to see their organizations as machines rather than living, human systems. Remove the people, though, and you won’t be able to get much done. More than just the heart, people are the soul (quite literally) of any company.
Leaders cultivate the foundation of culture to empower employees to achieve the company mission and realize how vital each of their contributions is to furthering those goals.
This is a factThey have a responsibility to demonstrate the beliefs of the company and reinforce behaviors that reflect those values. Be the change you want to see. If you want to reflect particular values, demonstrate those values in your actions.
📚 Additional reading
Shifting mindsets and behavior is the challenge. A mechanistic, transactional approach to culture change might seem to work initially, but such a superficial and partial approach isn’t going to result in significant or sustainable change.
Coaching is The New Leading
While our individualistic society shouts at us to get ahead and to compete, to be self-protective and territorial, what’s actually true is that your greatest fulfillment as a leader will come from seeing others thrive.
Pour into others. Allow space for them to make mistakes and learn from them. Invite them to opportunities they don’t think they are ready for.
What you do to call out and nurture the skills and talents of your team, to provide clarity and guardrails for them to pursue goals, and to create the safety of a risk-friendly, growth-mindset environment, will ultimately lead to the measure of your impact.
Servant Leadership demands an honest approach to leading.
This is a factHigh performing leaders includes people in establishing aims and objectives. They never shy away from accepting their accountability when things fail. By seeking your team’s opinions, counsel, and advice on what can be done it is far more likely to be accomplished.
While all high performing leaders care about their teams, what sets the leader-coach apart is their genuine interest in the growth of the individual members of their team.
The leader-coach works to help team members identify their strengths, weaknesses, and professional goals. He or she challenges team members by providing them with assignments and tasks in their areas of interest, that stretch them professionally and personally, causing them to grow and develop in the work.
A leader-coach provides a sense of optimism and confidence, while bringing a passion for the game.
If the leader is a business executive, he or she needs to be passionate about the business and demonstrate that thirst to know more about the business. This enthusiasm sparks a broader depth of interest and passion for the organization’s mission.
📚 Additional reading
When leaders invest in their team members through training, continued learning or career development programs, employees begin to feel empowered and organizations will thrive as a result.
Purpose Beats Profit
It matters not about the size of the contribution as long as it is authentic and born of a desire to make a difference. A focus on what problems the organization can solve for the customer, and whether they are actually doing (not just talking the talk).
We have to shift from how much profit to how much of a contribution we make.
It is the energy of contribution honestly made meeting a real need which is paramount. When we concentrate on contribution and make it a brilliant one, the energy will bring abundance.
Leaders have traditionally been hard-wired to focus on finances as the ultimate driver of business health.
This is a factThankfully this is changing. There is now an abundant and ever-growing body of research to support what enlightened leaders who are driving this movement already know — that purpose is essential for the long-term profitability and sustainability of any business.
According to a Deloitte survey, 87% of executives believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit.
This is a factFor decades now, bureaucracy, command-and-control hierarchies have all too often stifled creativity and sucked the sense of meaning out of work, leaving people feeling more like pen-pushers than agents of meaningful activity. The craving for purpose is a backlash against that.
Be generous and don’t allow fear or guilt about finances be the decision-maker. Realize wealth isn’t all about money, it is about an abundant mindset.
Instead of cutting costs or settling for second best or laying off employees for example, you will want to develop possibilities of generating ways to grow and increase wealth.
Ask for Help
Success within any organizational structure is based on team contributions, not personal accomplishments. As a leader, your role is to hire capable employees, delegate key tasks and provide resources that help teams work as effectively as possible.
Asking for help as a leader can be daunting. It’s an act of vulnerability.
This is a factHowever, admitting you need help doesn’t make you a bad leader. There is strength in being vulnerable and using all of the resources at your disposal in order to make the right decisions.
Asking your team members for help shows that trust them and they provide value to you.
In addition, it promotes a culture of collaborative help throughout the company — encouraging the sharing of perspectives and expertise. That’s something that leaders can do something about: They can set up their culture such that serendipitous help is more likely to be available.
Two heads are better than one.
This is a factOur own perspective often limits us, we just can’t seem to think of an answer or a course of action. By asking for help we create the opportunity to see the situation from a different perspective, thus opening up the possibilities for determining a solution to the issue.
Asking for help from your followers is important in facilitating their ongoing professional growth.
By asking for assistance from them you are demonstrating that you value their expertise and knowledge, and that you have something to learn from them. Your followers will recognize your confidence in them and will likely respond by willingly taking on new challenges and offering new and innovative ideas.
📚 Additional reading
No longer do leaders have to be super human. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to need help and ask for it. Good leaders know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.
Strive for Excellence
Let go of the need to compare and compete with others, whether personally or in business. Concentrate instead on only doing the best you can understand there is a niche for everyone and a contribution for everyone to make.
You’ve got to focus on doing your best, not coming first.
This is a factLeaders need to set high standards and hold people accountable for meeting those standards (that includes their own performance). I define excellence as getting better each given opportunity. This builds a culture of learning and constant improvement.
Google is famed for saying “We are Always in Beta.”
If in the back of your mind you always believe there is room for improvement then you will be much more open to change and adaptation to improve your business in an ever evolving and competitive landscape when aiming for excellence.
While cost cutting can sometimes be necessary — avoid if if you can. Instead, focus on value, show confidence and prove what you are selling works.
This is a factIt makes your business weaker and your competitors can take that opportunity to steal your customer. Cost cutting can give the impression of lower perceived value and untrustworthiness.
Excellence is compelling. In an environment of excellence, there is a palpable sense of energy, purpose, and inspiration.
People come alive and produce amazing results. Creativity will soar, innovation the norm, and continuous improvement embedded in everyday culture. People will feel lighter, happier, inspired, and engaged.
📚 Additional reading
Consider how many organizations strive for “good enough” by failing to uphold standards, defaulting to command and control, comparing themselves to and competing with rival companies. Or, just rehashing buzzwords and generic, empty vision statements.
Try Something New
Experimentation is often the gap between opportunity and success, and it is the leader’s responsibility to take that risk and drive teams to test new ideas. Innovation is largely a result of experimentation.
Without experimentation, organizations cannot advance or transform and their business falls behind.
This is a factThe organization must define and adapt in real-time to a continually changing environment. Mistakes are intrinsic to innovation; the goal is not to prevent them but rather to rapidly learn from them to advance the innovation process.
Create opportunities for every employee to ask questions and present ideas for experimentation.
Hierarchy should not determine who has the opportunity to pursue new discoveries or ideas. Instead, decisions should be made by employees with the most creative insights or those who are closest to the customers.
Fostering the ability to innovate and an environment where innovation can flourish leads to fresh discoveries, new information, and unexpected successes.
This is a factSome people may believe that they aren’t naturally creative, or that only artists or other creative types can be innovative. The reality is that many artists have creative capacity because they don’t feel inhibited.
Don’t pop the balloon — put a little more air in the balloon.
When an employee comes to you with an idea, resist the urge to come up with all kind of reasons why the idea won’t work. Instead, come up with ways to help the employee identify barriers and solutions, encourage the employee to test the idea, or look for things about the idea that will work. In other words, put air in the balloon.
People come to work with the intention of doing their best job. Sadly, most people do not feel they use their full potential at work and end up slowing down out of frustration.
Shifting your mindset as a leader will encourage people to engage their best assets.
This is a factIf you are not getting the results you want, it is time to think about making a commitment to shift your mindset and pursue leadership skills. Not only will your outcomes improve, you will find a new sense of purpose and meaning in your work.
These mindset shifts are not trivial.
Each requires rewiring brain patterns that are long-standing and have, in the past, led to rewards. These existing patterns must be replaced with new patterns that, over time, develop a new track record for success.
Leadership is an ongoing process, and these mindsets are only the first steps.
Mastering them helps you learn to delegate, motivate your employees, create high-performing teams and much more. As with any habit, changing these mentalities isn’t easy, it often takes months of practice.
And just in case you need to hear it: you have what it takes.
You’re in the position where you find yourself for a specific reason. Just step forward with confidence and a new fresh mindset!
With time and the right guidance, it’s possible to become a great leader while managing a highly effective team. What perspective shift do you need to make to think differently and lead better? Have you already taken any of these? Leave a comment below!
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.